Best Middle Grade Books for Conquering Middle School

With a good book and a cozy spot on the couch, your middle-grade reader can do anything: travel across the country, master spells and secrets, time travel, shape-shift, or teleport in the flip of a few pages. 

In the world of an immersive book, your reader is ready for anything—except maybe the trials and tribulations of middle school.

Luckily, there’s a book for conquering that, too (or, in this case, four!). True, there are no beasts to battle, monsters to manage, or sailors to sword-fight in the middle school cafeteria (or are there?), but this age comes with its own unique challenges. In which case, prepare your middle schooler for their next adventure with the best books for fifth graders and beyond!

1. Hello, Universe

Save the guinea pig, save the universe—sorta

This Newbery Medal-winning novel follows four neighborhood kids whose stories, and lives, are suddenly interwoven after a prank gone wrong (or maybe, if you were to ask local bully and perpetrator Chet Bullens, a prank gone right). 

Kaori, Gen, and Valencia rely on their nimble minds, hope, and courage—plus a little luck from the universe—to find and rescue Virgil and his pet guinea pig, developing lasting friendships along the way.

Conquering the classroom with this book

  • These fully realized, richly diverse, and ultimately relatable characters lay the foundation for developing meaningful friendships that defy traditional expectations (and highlight the value of individual differences).
  • Kelly provides young students with a shining example of how to treat (and how not to treat) others, whether they’re in the middle school classroom or neighborhood streets.

2. The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

If only I had superhuman math skills, then maybe all my problems would be solved!

What middle schooler hasn’t had this exact thought? (Guilty as charged!) But, when Lucy Callahan gets struck by lightning and actually acquires that superpower, we realize that solving advanced equations isn’t as important as experiencing the joys (and setbacks) of middle school.

Even super-geniuses need friends, just like everyone else.

Conquering the classroom with this book:

Author Stacy McAnulty shows all young readers that:

  • Life doesn’t always follow a logical equation
  • Our differences are what make us remarkable
  • Conquering middle school is about more than homework problems and math tests

3. Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom

Nobody’s middle school experience is perfect. As parents, you know that the less-wonderful parts of middle school aren’t a big deal in the long run. But to your kid, tripping and face-planting into their lunch tray in front of the entire cafeteria is a Code Red catastrophic confidence-extinction-level event, leading to internet searches like “how to change your name” and “tips for moving to Siberia.”

These worst-case scenarios live at the forefront of a middle schooler’s imaginations. That goes double for Abbie Wu, the adorably awkward and hilariously honest protagonist of Frazzled.

Abbie, who is perpetually in “crisis mode,” must deal with the inevitable challenges of middle school (awkward growth spurts, mean kids, braces, floundering fashion choices) while grappling with the much larger questions of where she fits in, what her thing is, and who she is.

Conquering the classroom with this book

  • It’s okay not to be some perfectly-put-together middle-schooler! Abbie Wu certainly isn’t, and she makes it through sixth grade just fine.
  • Not everyone will have realized their purpose or identity just yet. This book shows that middle school is the time to find them, piece by piece, along the way.
  • If she can navigate middle school, so can I!

4. The Losers Club

In middle school, “loser” is just about the last thing anyone wants to be called. And yet, as sixth-grader Alec proves, sometimes the so-called “losers” are actually the life of the party.

When Alec can’t get his nose out of a good book, he creates his own club to preserve his valuable reading time, rather than risk further upsetting his principal. And what’s the best way to ward off potential members? Call it the Losers Club. Perfect!

It would be, except that more and more classmates find their way to Alec’s club—and, inadvertently, to the joys of literature. This middle-grade novel declares, once and for all, that there is a book for everyone, yet simultaneously reveals that the most exciting stories aren’t in any book at all. 

They’re happening all around us. 

Conquering the classroom with this book

  • Despite the messiness of middle school, Alec reminds us all that our real lives are worth paying attention to. 
  • The Losers Club highlights the need to reject labels like “jock,” “nerd,” “artist,” and “class clown” altogether and actively recognize the complexities of every classmate.

Conquering Middle School, One Page at a Time!

What does every middle-schooler need for morning bus rides, silent reading time, and maybe even starting a book-loving club of their own? A steady stream of exciting, engaging, and age-appropriate literature! In other words? They need the best early chapter books. 

That’s exactly what they’ll get with Literati’s Club Phoenix book club subscription. 

Between the constant outpouring of “just one more chapter, please” and “sorry, can’t talk, I’m getting to the good part,” they’ll hardly have time to complain about middle school—and even then, they’ll know exactly how to navigate it.

On Key

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